A Call for More Gender-Neutral Washrooms

By: Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen

For many of us, the issues we have with public washrooms consist of problems regarding cleanliness and availability. For others, its whether or not the bathrooms available to them are ones that they will feel comfortable using.

Gender-neutral washrooms are rapidly becoming the source of much debate, and the issue has not escaped Carleton’s campus.

Recently, a master’s student at Carleton created a petition asking to have more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.

The petition calls for all single-stall gendered washrooms on campus to be changed to gender-neutral ones. Additionally, it asks that all plans for new buildings have inclusive washrooms built into the design.

There are currently 25 gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, according to a list published online by Carleton’s Equity Services. These are located in a variety of buildings, from Athletics to the University Centre, to Dunton Tower and the Mackenzie building.

However, there are no gender-neutral washrooms located in, or near, any of the residence buildings on campus.

With approximately 3,600 students living in residence all year round, it stands to reason that there are students who do not feel comfortable using the traditional gendered washrooms available to them.

These students would either have to travel around campus to seek out a gender-neutral washroom to frequent, or use the gendered ones available to them.

Residence and, by extension, the rest of the campus, is supposed to represent a second home for students where they feel comfortable hanging out and studying.

Washrooms are something that all of us need, and shouldn’t be spaces that people feel uncomfortable or un-safe using.

While it is notable that Carleton already has gender-neutral washrooms available on campus, the fact remains that there are simply not enough.

With 45 buildings on campus, and a student body of about 27,800 students, it is obvious that there is a need for more gender-neutral washrooms on campus.

Changing a single-stall, gendered washroom into a gender neutral one does not involve a lengthy remodeling process. All it involves in changing the sign on the door to something that indicates this is a washroom meant for anyone.

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